Stormwater management: Designing urban hydrological systems as infrascapes

Dipl.-Ing. Amiyo R. Ruhnke
Infrascape Studio
Hamburg, Germany

Water infrastructure tends to be designed as networked systems. Such systems can be found
in nature as well, for example in the self-organizing systems of mycelia fungi. Understanding
their mechanism leads to a design approach that interweaves urban water infrastructure with
open space planning. Core principles learned from the fungi were applied to a site in New
Orleans. The design strategy concentrated on improving the quality of the open space as well
as linking storm water management with engineering and urban design strategies. Flexible
and resilient solutions that blend centralized as well as de-centralized water infrastructure
with the urban landscape became the basic planning strategy. Small scale solutions were
designed for specific situations and connected with larger scale systems, both as technical
infrastructure and as integral parts of an open space framework, reframing the urban
landscape as a continuous infrascape.

Keywords: Storm water, landscape infrastructure, networked systems, ecological
engineering, resilience, infrascapes, water sensitive urban design, New Orleans.

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